Working to control Wireworms

TEST PLOT TEAM  —  From the left, Professor Gadi Reddy, John Miller, Kim Tangtrukalwanich, an intern from Thailand, Vickie Ophus and Julie Converse from the county are working on a test plot of infestation of wireworms and other insects that damage grains.   I-O Photo by Buck Traxler




Wireworms are severe and widespread agricultural pests affecting numerous crops throughout the world and causing damage of economic importance in Conrad and other areas of Montana.

Led by Professor Gadi Reddy, a team from the Western Triangle Ag Research Center and Julie Converse from the county weed department worked on setting up a test plot on a field of Jerry Hepp’s across from the Pondera Golf Course.

Also working on the test plot was Vickie Ophus and John Miller and an intern from Thailand, Kim Tangtrukalwasnich.

Synthetic neonicotinoids have been largely used for the control of wireworms. Although these treatments are efficacious to some extent, concerns associated with human and environmental health have caused attention to be focused on the development of reduced-risk compounds and practices in addition to concerns about the evolution of resistance to neonicotinoids.

Tests by Agri-Food Canada of the insect pathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae strain F52 (commercialized in the U.S.), have resulted in increased grain yields when used alone or in combination with clothianidin or spinosad.

The increase in yield was due to wireworm control. Wireworm cadavers with M. anisopliae strain F52 growth were retrieved from treated plots.

Since lindane was banned in 2009 in the US for agricultural use, the proposed research is urgently required and may serve as effective control method for wireworms.

The entomopathogenic fungi, Beauveria bassiana and M. anisopliae have been reported to infect larval and adult wireworms and have been used in biocontrol experiments against this pest. Both are registered in the U.S. as biopesticides, albeit for other insects, not wireworms per se. Therefore, these fungal pathogens will be tested for their laboratory and field efficacy against wireworms on spring wheat at the Western Triangle Agricultural Research Center.

In an effort to protect wheat fields from wireworm herbivory and yield loss, wheat seeds will be treated with conidia of M. anisopliae and B. bassiana before planting at two farm fields.